MORE ON COURT FEES
The following Texas Municipal League news release was issued last week:
Texas Senate votes for $87 in state fees on every traffic ticket
AUSTIN – The Texas Senate on Thursday voted to increase the state fees that cities and counties have to collect on every traffic violation to $87. The House of Representatives is considering a separate bill that would add another $15 on top of that for a total of $102 in state fees on each municipal or county traffic ticket.
The State of Texas currently adds $82 to every traffic fine collected by cities, which amounted to $235 million in 2010. An amendment by Sen. Jose Rodriguez (D-El Paso) to SB 1811 passed the Texas Senate Friday on a vote of 17 - 14. In the House, HB 258 by Rep. Naomi Gonzalez (D-El Paso) which would add another $15 to each ticket has been approved by the Ways and Means Committee.
“Using a tax on city traffic tickets to pay for state programs is a deceptive way to increase spending that turns city police officers into state tax collectors,” said Texas Municipal League Executive Director Bennett Sandlin.
“Legislators want to use the revenue for worthwhile state programs,” Sandlin said. “But adding more state fees to municipal traffic violations is just the wrong way for the state to raise money regardless of how worthy the cause. The legislature is making minor traffic infractions unaffordable for many drivers and uncollectable for cities.”
Since 2002, the state fee on every municipal traffic violation, except for pedestrian and parking violations, has more than doubled, rising from $40 to $82. Regardless of the amount a city is able to collect on a traffic violation, the state gets $82 before the city gets any fine money.
The Legislative Budget Board estimates that only 65 percent of traffic fines will be paid with the additional state fee. Some cities have seen collection rates drop below 50 percent as states fees have soared.